Rick Scott’s Tax Abatement: #itsnotworking

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Rick Scott and his Republican allies in the legislature have given tax break after tax break to companies on the premise of bringing new jobs to the state. The companies that get tax breaks are usually the ones that contribute most to political campaigns or that hire the best connected lobbyists in the capital.

The record of failed tax incentives and tax abatement is clear. For a state of its size, one of four true “mega-states” with more large and medium sized urban areas capable of attracting businesses than any other state in the country, Florida has a pathetically small number larger companies based in the state.

Despite tax rates lower than most states’ and “right to work” status which prevents unions from effectively organizing, Florida’s Republicans have failed badly in attracting high-end service sector job, manufacturing jobs, intellectual jobs, engineering jobs, scientific jobs or more than a handful high-profile corporate relocations.

The relocation of Hertz to Florida was a move which the Governor can take credit for. But his efforts take credit for the expansion of the Port of Miami, which were conceived during the Crist administration, is shallow at best. While Governor Scott did well the regarding the Boeing training relocation to Miami, he has failed to build the educational, training or manufacturing infrastructure to follow up the mere 100 jobs relocated from Seattle with anything more tangible.

Much of this failure has had to do with the woeful state of Florida’s education system, something badly neglected and experimented with during the uninterrupted 16 years of Republican rule in Tallahassee. The educational process has become more political and more for-profit/corporate oriented under this Governor, something that could lead to long-term disaster.

Let’s compare Florida’s success at attracting business to other southern states. Virginia has attracted five new Fortune 500 companies to the state in the past decade. Texas, which like Florida has been run by conservative Republicans, has attracted four. Florida has attracted just one, Hertz, and lost one during the same period in Winn-Dixie. While having the fourth largest population in the country and total Republican control of state government for 16 years, Florida ranks just 11th in Fortune 500 company headquarters. In terms of actual high-wage job creation and attracting new big business to the state, Texas’ Rick Perry and Virginia’s combination of Democratic and Republican Governors blow away Scott. This is despite every tax abatement scheme under the sun being proposed by this Governor, pushed by corporate lobbyists and rubber-stamped by a legislature whose ideological bent prevents them from asking difficult questions.

While unable to attract new businesses or foster a climate of innovation that develops successful companies, the Republicans have done real damage with cuts to Higher Education that has resulted in the plummeting national reputation of the state’s top universities.

Perhaps the GOP’s agenda is to protect current Florida businesses by busting unions, lowering taxes and preventing competition or innovation in the marketplace. Weakening higher education ensures that chances of a well-educated workforce emerging to threaten the old order are remote. Last month the Tampa Bay Times and Miami Herald listed several examples of tax abatement schemes gone bad under this administration.

Here are some of the best examples we’ve selected from the Times and Herald.

Even companies that received promises of tax incentive money from the state have had layoffs. Digital Risk, for example, a Boca Raton-based software maker received $2 million from the state’s Quick Action Closing Fund and recently announced 112 layoffs.

After receiving more than $700,000 in economic incentives from the state, a Bradenton ambulance production outfit shed 129 employees.

Darden restaurants received incentive awards of $175,000 last year to create 75 jobs but in September announced it is laying off 85 employees at its Orlando headquarters.

And Northrop Grumman Corp., the Virginia-based military contractor, on-track to receive nearly $19 million in cash and tax breaks from state and local authorities, said 85 employee at the Cherry Point’s Tactical Training Range in Panama City will lose their jobs.

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